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Laura Espinal

Project Leader, Solid Sorbents


I lead a project focused on advancing sorption measurement science and in-situ characterization techniques to enable the rational design of advanced materials for sustainable energy and environmental applications.  We apply complementary sorption techniques to ensure high quality of data and develop robust protocols to further measure preferential adsorption using gas mixtures.  A summary of our measurement capabilities can be found here.  We also look at the physical and chemical response of solid sorbents upon exposure to model gases and vapors at the temperatures and pressures that best depict the story of the solid sorbent being studied.   

Research Interest

  • Functional materials for sustainable technologies and materials sustainability.
  • Solid state sorbents for environmental applications, e.g., carbon capture.
  • In situ structural analysis of gas separation materials via neutron and X-ray techniques.
  • Physico-chemical characterization and mechanistic evaluation of catalytic materials.
  • Rational and accelerated design of materials through an integrated computational and experimental approach.

Research Opportunities

National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship:  (Open to U.S. citizens)

  • Adsorption Science to Enable Sustainable Development (RO# 50.64.31.B7985).  Sorbent materials are candidates for many industrial sustainable development applications, including hydrogen and methane storage, gas separation, catalysis, methane conversion, and natural gas purification. However, reproducible sorption properties measurements are difficult to obtain due to slight variations in sample preparation and/or measurement protocols. NIST researchers, with support from the US Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), recently built a state-of-the-art Facility for Adsorbent Characterization and Testing (FACT). The new facility is furnished with several instruments for characterizing pore architecture and evaluating fundamental sorption properties of materials upon exposure to single or multi-component gases. FACT will serve the sorbent materials research community by providing impartial testing and characterization of material sorption properties, establishing testing procedures, and disseminating sorbent material property data and measurement "best practices." Specific research activities include utilization of state-of-the-art techniques and establishing protocols for measuring reliable high pressure gas sorption isotherms in support of materials development for carbon capture and natural gas purification. The materials to be used in this project may be porous solids, powders, or membranes.



Carbon Capture and Storage Properties of Porous Octahedral Molecular Sieve

Matthew Lawson, Jarod C. Horn, Winnie K. Wong-Ng, Laura Espinal, Huong Giang T. Nguyen, James A. Kaduk, Saul H. Lapidus, Yongtao Meng, Steven L. Suib, Lan Li
Based on the experimentally determined framework structure of porous MnO2 octahedral molecular sieve (OMS)-5, we used density functional theory-based

A reference high-pressure CO2 adsorption isotherm for ammonium ZSM-5 zeolite: results of an interlaboratory study

Huong Giang T. Nguyen, Laura Espinal, Roger D. van Zee, Matthias Thommes, Blaza Toman, Sterlin Hudson, Enzo Mangano, Stefano Brandani, Katie Cychosz, Pieter Bertier, Feng Yang, Bernhard Krooss, Rebecca Siegelman, Jeffrey Long, Yoko Nakada, Kazu Nakai, Armin Ebner, James Ritter, Aaron Moran, Orhan Talu, Yi Huang, Krista Walton, Pierre Billemont, Guy de Weireld
This paper reports the results of an international interlaboratory study led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on the measurement of
Created October 9, 2019